Monday, July 5, 2010

Gettin' Chummy

Last year my old high-school buddy, Dan, attended an organized riding event called “The Chumstick”.  It is a 2-day riding/camping event that is held in the Entiat, WA area. 

Since he told me “it’s a ride that shouldn’t be missed”, I decided to go this year, and drag my brother and father along too.

My brother and I decided we would ride to the Pine Flats Campsite, (where the Chumstick ride begins and ends), from his house on the west side of the Cascades, while Dad was going to load his bike in the back of the truck and tow a tent trailer over to Pine Flats a day earlier. 

On Thursday, Dad left with as much as we could think to load him up with.  The more he took in the truck, the less we had to strap down to the bikes.

Friday morning arrived and Dale and I got going at a leisurely 9:30am.  We weren’t in a hurry.  In fact we stopped at a local coffee shop for a bite to eat and some caffeine.

The bikes are still clean at this point.

We finally got on the road and since we wanted to ride on as many dirt roads as possible, there was a strong possibility that we’d run into a roadblock or two and may have to back track and find an alternate way around.

Our planned route consisted of about 35 miles of dirt roads, followed by 45 miles of pavement, and then topped off with an additional 50 miles of dirt.

It turns out we did encounter a few obstacles along the way.  We were fortunately able to maneuver our way around them without too much trouble and we managed to not lose too much time in the process.

Our first obstacle

After the first section of dirt roads, we jumped on Stevens Pass to make our way over the mountains.  My bike was geared a bit too low to be cruising @ 60-65mph for long periods of time, but “The Bruise” screamed it’s way over the pass and 45 minutes later, we were on the dirt roads of eastern Washington.

This gate was open on Friday...

...and closed on Sunday.

Near the summit of Stevens Pass

This section of dirt roads started out to be little more than an ATV trail.  It was steep and narrow and was a lot of fun.  During our ascent we encountered 2 small black bears that didn’t seem to want to stick around.  All we really saw was their furry butts disappearing into the brush.  We were just hoping that their mother wasn’t interested in meeting us up close.

One of the many places we stopped to take a picture.

Once we got higher into the hills, we had to stop quite a few times to take in the scenery.  It was a beautiful day and the views were amazing.

After a while longer, we came across Sugarloaf lookout.  We decided to stop and check out the active fire watchtower, and we weren’t the only ones.  There were about a dozen young hikers who were talking with the Forest Service employee who manned the tower.  Dale and I stopped to take a few photos and just relax for a bit.  Once we had our fill of the beautiful vistas, we made a push to get to our destination at a little quicker pace. 

@ Sugarloaf Lookout

Sugarloaf Lookout

It didn’t take us too long before we were riding into the Pine Flats campsite.  We located Dad and not long after arriving, we had our feet propped up and drinks in our hands. 

Takin' it easy

One of the first realizations was that the flying bugs in the area were hungry.  In order to combat this problem we coated ourselves with copious amounts some toxic spray that promised to prevent the bugs from eating us alive, and for the most part it worked.

That evening we indulged in the hotdog feast that was being prepared by the ride organizer, JR.  While we were there we bumped into Dan and Chuck.  Dan and Chuck had ridden in earlier that day and they were both riding unsupported.  While Dad, Dale and I were sleeping in semi-luxury, Dan was sleeping in not much more than a plastic garbage bag.  Chuck had at least brought along a tent that provided some shelter for himself.

Dale, Dan & Chuck

The Chumstick “Ride and Seek” ride is a pre-determined route that is installed on every rider’s gps unit, or at least for the riders who have gps units.  The course was a little over 110 miles and consisted primarily of extremely dusty forest service roads that climbed and descended the eastern foothills of the Cascade mountains.  There was a small section or two of pavement near the halfway point of the course, but that was mainly to provide an opportunity for the riders to refuel and get some lunch down in Cashmere. 

Throughout the course, there were three geo-cache locations where each rider was tasked with finding the hidden geo-cache container and removing a raffle ticket that would later be used for the prize drawings.  The clues that were provided made it nearly impossible to not find each location.

Early Saturday morning breakfast was served. Once everyone got their fill, the 40+ riders began to make their way out of the campground and on to the course.  Most of the riders were up and gone by 7am.  The three of us were so comfortable sleeping in Dad’s tent trailer that we didn’t get on our bikes until nearly 8am.  While we weren’t the last riders out of the campground, we were close.

Dale gettin' a bit frisky

The first half of the ride consisted of many fantastic views and there was quite a bit of stopping to take photos, etc…  We climbed to the top of Chumstick Summit and stopped to take a few photos but since the wind was blowing roughly 30 knots we decided to snap a few quick pictures and get back on the course.

Ol' Dad on the WR

One of the many excellent views

Before too long we found ourselves winding down a smoothly paved country road that led us into Cashmere.  Once we made it into town, we stopped in at Rusty’s for a burger and a milkshake.  We sat at a picnic table in a cool, shady area.  It was a great lunch.

Lunch was @ Rusty's

We fueled up and got back on the course.  After 20 minutes or so of more pavement, we once again were eating each other’s dust on the forest service roads. 

The second half of the ride offered some really fun, narrow dirt roads that climbed steeply into the hills and were overgrown with wildflowers, prairie grass and other foliage.  We all enjoyed that particular section a lot.

I was continually impressed with how well the guys with the huge bikes rode.  I'm not sure I could've done it on those monsters.

More dust consumption and a couple minor spills later, we eventually made our way to the end of the ride and back into the Pine Flats campsite… and the comfort of Dad’s tent trailer.  We each poured ourselves a celebration beverage and sat down on our camp chairs to relax and verbally recount the day’s ride.

Another beautiful view

At some point in the evening, JR and his support staff provided us with a burger BBQ that was very good!  While we were feasting on our dinner, JR proceeded with a prize drawing.  He drew names from a coffee can where everyone had placed their “found” tickets from the geo-cache locations. 

Here's JR puttin' on a show

There were quite a few prizes to be had but there were a couple items that were considered to be the most desired of the lot.  One of which was a folding saw.  This was the object of Dr. Dan’s affection and he verbally expressed this to those of us sitting near him more than once during the proceedings.  He was very confident that JR was going to draw his name, and when this fantasy became reality, Dan proudly stood up with a big grin on his face and strutted his way to accept his glorious prize.  Once the folding saw was in his little, sweaty, chiropractor hands, he stood in front of the entire group of riders and displayed his winnings much like a game show girl from “The Price Is Right” would display a potential prize.  Chuck, Dale and I gave him crap all evening about this, but nothing could faze “Dr. Saw” and his good mood…  because he was a WINNER!

...that is until he tried his hand at a game of "Washers".

Dan, Marty, Cheryl and Paul(I think)

I was amazed at how well Dan was able to ride his bike home the next day using only his right hand

Most of us found our way down to Lan & Sylvia’s campsite.  They had the “land yacht” parked and the generator running.  The margaritas started pouring and before long, Lan had brought out a game called “Washers”.  It’s basically a game much like horseshoes but with a few variations.  The game was fun but the name could use a little help.

Lan & Sylvia's motorhome... this was where the party was

Chuck and I teamed up and for the majority of the night we couldn’t be beaten.  Dan appeared to not even understand that the washers were supposed to be tossed into the holes as whenever he threw one, it nearly ended up in the river.  It may be because he wouldn’t let go of his saw while he was playing but I can’t be sure.  Eventually Chuck and I were dethroned by Lan and our newly minted friend, Todd but we had a good run while it lasted.

A rousing game of "Washers"

The next morning, we started packing things up and getting ready to make our way back to the west side.  We got the tent trailer compressed into its transport configuration and sent Dad off on his way. 

Dale and I had decided to ride back the way we rode over two days earlier.  Mainly because we knew that it was unobstructed and we shouldn’t have to worry about roadblocks.  We had a great ride back over the mountains and found ourselves sitting at the Duvall Grill & Tap Room a few hours later.

Parked outside the Duvall Grill & Tap Room after a long weekend of riding

Overall, the weekend was nearly perfect.  I got to spend time with my brother and father and a few good friends doing something that I love to do… 

…riding motorcycles.

The Burris Boys

Thanks to JR and all his friends who put on this fun event!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

"Tippy Killswitch" and sons go for a ride.

The much anticipated Burris family get-together occurred at the end of May in order to celebrate a few birthdays and Mother's Day.  But most importantly, it was a chance for the entire family to spend some time together at the same time.  Part of this planned event included a day ride on the bikes for my Dad, brother and I.

My wife and I arrived on Saturday afternoon and after the usual greetings and hugs, etc... my dad and I turned our attention toward our WRs and all the modifications we had planned on doing to them before we went on our ride.  Being that I have very little restraint when it comes to buying new parts for the bike, I had a bunch of goodies to put on, and so did my father.

We had both bikes up on the jacks and started taking things apart and putting things on.  Most of the stuff was simple bolt-on type stuff but a few items required wire soldering and such.

Here's what we did to Dad's Yamaha:
  • Removed the front turn-signals and installed new Zeta handguards with integrated flashers.
  • Installed the much needed Yamalink to lower his seat height.
  • Installed a front rotor guard that I removed from my bike.

Here's what we did to my bike:
  • Removed my custom taillight setup and replaced it with the DRC kit.
  • Replaced all the blue plastic with black plastic.
  • Installed a notched seat for a lower seat height.
  • Lowered my front forks a bit to help with the height adjustment.
  • Installed Wolfman saddlebags
  • Repaired my sticking throttle.
  • Removed front rotor guard, then installed it on Dad's bike.
  • Installed a handlebar mount for my Garmin GPS.

This process took the rest of Saturday evening and part of Sunday as well.

On Sunday, my brother and his family showed up.  It was great to see everyone, especially my Niece and Nephew.

My brother brought his Suzuki DRZ400 along and also had a few things to do to it.  We spent the last half of Sunday messing around with the bikes and periodically chatting with the girls as well.

Here's what was done to the DRZ:
  • A rear rack was installed.  (He had done this prior to arriving, but it is a nice mod).
  • We installed the custom taillight setup that had been removed from my bike and removed his bulky, stock plastic nightmare.
  • Another item completed prior to arriving was a set of new Pirelli MT21s.

Heading out

On Monday morning, the three of us set out for an easy ride up in the Olympic National Forest along some Forest Service roads.  It was a bit chilly and we ended up stopping to put on a few extra layers that we had fortunately opted to bring along.  We repeatedly checked the map to track our progress.  We had planned a loop that would take us to Quilcene, WA where we figured we'd grab lunch and refuel the machines.  The map we got from the forest service was mostly accurate but we found a couple errors, but with a few back-tracks and references to the GPS units, we found our way to the correct roads.

Stopped on the bridge to bundle up a bit

About 30 minutes into the ride, we stopped to check the map for the 13th time.  During this stop, we all decided to ride up this small embankment that led up to another road.  I went first and then headed down the road a bit to see if it was the correct one.  I turned back after a mile or so to let the others know that this was the correct way.  When I returned, I saw my brother and dad picking up dad's bike from the ditch.  Apparently, dad had liked riding up it the first time so much, that he wanted to do it again.  This time though, he took a different/steeper line and his front tire became lodged in a deep rut at the top of the ridge.  This stopped any forward movement he had and sent him falling to his right.  He landed squarely on his shoulder just a few inches from a large chunk of wood.  The bike fortunately didn't fall on him and as I pulled up, he appeared to be fine.  After all was said and done, however, it became apparent that his shoulder was hurt more than he wanted to admit.  We sat there for a bit and I suggested that we head back to get him some ice and rest.  But being the stubborn old fart that he is, he insisted that we continue on our ride.  So continue we did.

A little hill climbing fun.

The rest of the ride was mostly uneventful.  We made it to Quilcene and discovered that every gas station that they had was out of business.  We found a park and ate our sandwiches while we discussed our options.  We knew that the DRZ had enough fuel with the large capacity tank, but our WRRs were our concern.  We did some rough calculations and decided that we should be able to make it back home, barely.  

Apparently, baby deer don't run away.  They just sit there and hope you go away... and it worked!

After lunch, we got back into the ONF and rode the other side of our loop back toward Sequim.  The last part of our ride was pretty good as we found some interesting roads that took us on some slippery mud and some that took us up to the top of Bear Hill for some nice views.

On "Bear Hill" (I think)

As we came out of the forest and back on to pavement, we witnessed a bald eagle investigating a dead animal in the middle of the road.  As we approached it, it spread it's giant wings and took off right in front of us.  As it veered toward the adjacent field, we all got a great, closeup view of the amazing size of this bird.  I was bummed that I didn't have my camera in a more accessible location.  I could have captured a couple great photos.

The elder Burri

By this point, both of the Yamaha's "low fuel" lights were on.  We figured that if we ran out of gas, we could siphon a bit from my brother's tank.  Fortunately, we were able to make it without having to resort to that.

My brother and his DRZ

After the ride was over, we filled my mother in on all the stories from our short adventure.  We got some ice for dad's shoulder and some beer for our throats.

Just before my brother and I headed out back to our own homes, our Aunt and Uncle showed up from Oregon.  Since we hadn't seen them in years, it was great to see and talk to them for a bit.

"The Bruise"

Overall, this was a good ride to prepare for the 3-day ride that is planned for June.  The 2010 Chumstick Ride and Seek.

Miles ridden:  About 110

Injuries:  1

Eagles encountered:  1 (maybe 2)

Fawns encountered:  1

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Do the Wynoochee.

Since my dad just bought his new WR, we wanted to take a good day trip to try it out.  Because my dad hadn't ridden a dirt bike in nearly 30 years, we decided it would be best to take it a bit easy on this first day and not try anything too difficult.  So with this in mind, we decided to ride some of the forest service roads in the south part of the Olympic National Forest.  We started in Shelton and before too long, we were up on the gravel forest service roads.  Our first destination was the "high steel bridge".  I had actually been there before with the Tahuya group almost a year earlier but it was just as breathtaking as the first time.  The waterfalls and bright green water are beautiful to look at.  We stopped and took in the sights.  We took a few photos and decided to get moving.  

Dad was a bit concerned about tripping and falling over the edge.

Our goal was to make it to Wynoochee Lake and back and since none of us had really ridden there before we didn't know how long it was going to take.  We did have a map and 2 Garmin gps units so we were feeling pretty confident that we weren't going to get lost... but you never know.  

After awhile we came to an intersection and had to make a decision about which way to go.  After looking at the map, we decided on a direction and headed off.  Roughly 2 miles later, we rounded a corner and encountered a fairly good sized snowbank.  My experience in the past has generally been that the spring snow on these roads are much like cement in their consistency and as such, it makes it very difficult to travel much more than a bike-length into it.  But being the optimist that I am, I decided to give it a shot.  Amazingly enough, I was able to keep my momentum going and with some help from my feet, I was able to make it the 50 yards or so through the snow.  I think the depth was just shallow enough to allow the rear tire to occasionally grab a bit of traction on the dirt below and that's what got me through it.  We discussed the options and decided that before we tried to get everyone through that I should scout ahead to see if there were any more snowbanks to deal with.  It didn't take long for me to find another much larger snowbank about a mile ahead so I turned around and headed back to tell them not to bother blasting through the snow.  As I was returning though, I could see across the ravine to where my dad and brother were standing and I thought it looked fairly scenic and stopped to take a couple photos.  As I got off the bike, I remembered that my gps has a radio as well and I thought I'd see if my brother had remembered the same thing.  Sure enough, he had ran back to his bike to grab his gps just in case I called him.  We definitely were thinking along the same lines.  We used the radios to chat for a bit and I was taking pictures of them from about a half-mile away at increasingly greater zoom.  I finally got my Canon SX20is zoomed as far as it would go and I got an amazingly clear shot of my brother and dad from a long way off.  I think for a relatively inexpensive camera that it was impressive that it could zoom in that well.

A look back toward the snowbank from across the ravine.

Zoomed in shot from about 1/2 mile away.

We all headed back away from the snow and within an hour or so we made it to Wynoochee Lake.  There was no-one around and the sun was out.  It was a great place to stop and eat lunch.  We spent about an hour there just shootin' the breeze and eating our sandwiches.  At one point, a truck drove up with a guy who worked for Tacoma Power and he gave us some good information about some of the roads that were under construction.  He reminded me of the Red Green character "Ranger Gord".

It was 4pm so we decided that if we were going to get back at a reasonable hour that we should get moving.  We planned our return route so we didn't have to back track too much.  Our only concern was whether or not we were going to have to turn back due to more snow.  Fuel was another concern... at least for dad and I.  Our bikes only have 2 gallons of gas each and peering inside revealed that we had used roughly half of it already.  As long as we didn't encounter any major detours, we felt that we should be fine.  Besides, my brother had a much larger capacity tank and if necessary we could siphon a bit from him to make it back.  

Wynoochee Lake


My brother blasting through some snow.

We we cruising along at a pretty good pace and found ourselves on a fairly steep and narrow road.  It climbed and twisted and the views were great.  I had to force myself not to keep stopping after every turn in order to take pictures.  We stopped a few times to take in the views and at one point we even found we had cell phone coverage.  We decided to check in with home and let everyone know that we were headed back.  We encountered a few smallish snowbanks but nothing that couldn't be blasted through fairly easily.  

We made it down the hill into a small town called Matlock and since both my dad's and my low fuel lights had come on earlier, we considered getting a bit of gas to make it back to the truck.  I was fairly confident that we could make it the last 15 or so miles without refueling since we'd be on pavement and getting good fuel economy.  So after a bit of discussion, we opted not to fuel up and just head toward the truck.  

About a mile before reaching where we parked the truck, I witnessed a small crash.  I was last in line behind my dad and brother and as we were getting on the onramp to Hwy 101, I noticed a guy on a Suzuki GSXR was going to be getting on the same onramp just after me.  I started accelerating up the ramp when I noticed something in my mirror.  It was a red flash with lots of sparks.  The guy on the GSXR apparently had laid the bike down in the turn for whatever reason and slid all the way across the road and into the grass.  I did a quick u-turn and headed back down to see if he was ok.  By the time I got there he was standing and seemed to be unhurt.  I could see that he wasn't wearing any gloves and the backs of his hands were bleeding but aside from that, he seemed ok.  A guy in a truck stopped as well and after a few minutes I determined that he didn't need my assistance and wished him good luck.

I made it back to the truck a few minutes after my dad and brother and they were just about to head back and look for me. I told them the story as we loaded up and before long we were on our way to grab some dinner and a brew.  The ride went great and we all had a blast.  Dad did great on his new machine and aside from the need to lower his suspension a bit, the bike worked perfect for him.  I anticipate many good rides this summer.

Miles ridden: about 115

Lonely Power company employees encountered: 1

Alcohol consumed: None... until after the ride was over.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

More is better.

When my Dad retired from United Airlines in 2002, he decided to buy a motorcycle, (A Honda VTX1800), to spend some of his retirement riding around the western part of the United States with his brother and a few others.  But in the last couple years, the bike hasn't been ridden much for various reasons.  So recently the decision had been made that he would get a dual sport bike so he could go on rides with my brother and I.

Yesterday, I went down on behalf of my dad to The Brothers Powersports in Bremerton and picked up a used 2008 WR250R just like mine... only not beat to hell.  I dealt with Dan and he was a nice guy who obviously knows how to ride since I noticed a 3rd place plaque from the Sparkplug Enduro sitting on his desk.  You may recall my past experiences in the '08 Sparkplug and the '09 Sparkplug and the closest I came to 3rd place was when I was 10th in line at Starbucks after the event was over.  Also, while I was waiting around for Dan to do his thing, I met Tom, (also a nice guy),  who works in the parts department.  It turns out that he also participated in the '09 Sparkplug on a WR250R.  This is funny because I actually made note of this in my blog entry about that event and had never known who it was.  Now I know who the other insane rider was.  Go back and read the '09 Sparkplug entry and you'll see what I mean.

Dad's new bike!

Tomorrow my brother, my dad and myself are planning a day ride in the Shelton area and I am sure that today will be spent tinkering with dad's new bike to get it set up a little better for him.  We most definitely need to lower it but since we won't get the lowering parts before tomorrow, we'll just have to do what we can with the factory shock adjustment for now.  I know he wants to get rid of the big, goofy looking blinkers so we'll probably pick up some of the aftermarket stuff today and put them on.  We also bought new Pirelli MT21s to put on his new ride in order to give him much better traction in the dirt.

The contrast is interesting.

I'm sure there will be much more to add in the near future... so stay tuned.

Friday, February 12, 2010


I have not been on a motorcycle since September 2009 and I'm feeling a strong need to go riding.
The last 6+ months have been a life-altering experience. I started flying for Korean Air in July and have had to spend the the majority of the last 6 months overseas. Because of this, and also because of the typical winter weather in the Pa
cific NW when I was home, I haven't had a good opportunity to get back in the saddle. My brother and I are planning a day trip on the bikes this month when I get back from Korea and I hope it doesn't rain very hard.
The closest I've been to being on a bike since September was the "Harley" that I rode in Seoul.

Looking forward to getting back on the bike.